If you have ever had to keep the biggest secret in world for more than 3 weeks from the person you love, than you will know exactly that I am talking about. It is damn near impossible. You dance around the issue, you lie about the weekend plans, and you just want to shout out "IF YOU ONLY KNEW!!" I knew I would propose, I knew how I would propose and I knew exactly when. Ashley? NO CLUE. A constant question over the last few weeks: What are you waiting on? Why haven’t you proposed yet? Why why why when when when??? Inside my head? I’M WAITING ON THE RING PLEASE STOP ASKING!!! If you only knew...

What she didn’t know turned out to be the best night of our lives. It was also one of the most nerve wracking moments I’ve ever experienced. And I’ve been in some dicey situations – sneaking around my high school at midnight waiting to do a prank with the security officers roaming the halls, hitting the 1st tee shot in many big golf tournaments, skydiving, bungee jumping – nothing compared to this. Nothing.

The venue? First United Methodist Church (thanks to Patti O’Dea’s negotiating skills!!). The scene? 100% candlelight, 6 dozen roses, grand piano (thanks to my brother and wife Chris for setting up!!). The ask? A song that I wrote for Ashley. Music and lyrics, the whole shebang. She claims that she had no idea what was going on until I actually started playing, which I supposed was the intended effect. She thought we were there for a prayer vigil (believable?) with my small group. All I know is that I was incredibly nervous to sing for her, nervous that my voice would crack like a 6th grader going thru puberty, nervous that I would cry like a little baby and not be able to finish...but I was not nervous about the answer. When the song was done, she was a wreck (in a great way), I was shaking so bad the piano was wiggling, but I eventually got down on my knee and went for it. I have no idea what I actually said but I remember the response. Pretty sure you know what she said too. I do know that an incredible sense of peace came over me when we were just standing there, a newly engaged couple, talking and hugging. It was like nothing I have ever felt before, honestly.

After the 3 greatest letters I’ve heard, we had some champagne and went to dinner with “my brother and Chris and your parents”. You really think that’s all I had planned? Yeah, right. Fat chance. We showed up to The Union to have 40 of her closest friends and family yelling and screaming congratulations! It was an amazing scene. Once I get some pictures I’ll make sure to post them. But Ashley’s reaction was PRICELESS. It was unreal. She really had no idea that they were there (why would she?) and it really hit both of us the love we felt. This road has been long for us – over 4 years of dating, and all across the freaking United States of America – so for it to come to this is just the best feeling I have experienced. And we felt that from the crowd of friends too. I felt the years, I felt the distance, I felt the relief, but I felt calm and I felt loved. It was almost indescribable. But it was amazing.

We spent the rest of the night there and back at her house talking and celebrating and laughing and hugging and reacting and recalling the night. It couldn’t have been better one bit. We are so excited for what is next. Not sure of a wedding date yet, but you know what? We are going to enjoy being ENGAGED for a few days!

As one great mind once said, Engagement means Enragement! We’ll do our best to avoid that.

Bring on the next great Mrs. Casebeer!


Someone's got a case of the Mondays....

Some sights and sounds and thoughts from the last day or two....

Saw a guy driving with no shirt on this morning....and drinking coffee.

Saw a guy drop a weight on his foot at the gym (which coincidentally almost made me do the same thing).

Sang my lungs out last night to Meat Loaf (a long standing O'Dea tradition...you'll see it in action one day...verry funny slash impressive.)

Really sick of Jason Mraz "No More"...or whatever it is called...you know..."So I....won't....hessszz...iii....tate.....no.....more...nooooooo more"...etc etc. Enough already!

My bracket is holding up alright after a huge Wake Forest upset...13/16 teams left.

Church was "off the chains" yesterday...to quote Alex Whitaker. Please see : Eddie Kirkland to realize why. He was the musician. And he was amazing.

Learned how to shag last night. (Get your mind out of the gutter). A Southern dance. Have you heard of it? I never have. I did realize that I am horrible at it, but I did get a good laugh watching Ashley learn! I'm sure she got the same laugh at me.....

My book, "The Long Run", is picking up speed (ba doom, ching!). It's about this group of orphans at an orphange in Newfoundland who get into all sorts of trouble. It is pretty good!

Just heard this lady talk about her husband, who is a police officer, and how he had to taze someone this weekend. Cool!

Layed by the pool yesterday...70 degrees...in March...tanning...I love global warming!
Played tennis on Friday, and woke up the following morning to a sore right leg and right arm. Does that mean that I hit too many forehands?

Ashley/My current favorite shows: Celebrity Apprentice (hilarious/pathetic), Dancing with the Stars (never ever ever thought I would like this show), Biggest Loser (biggest fan).

Wertz coming to town on Saturday....always fun! We are also going to see Chick Corea play on Sunday, and I can't wait. A music-filled weekend!

If you haven't had a fried pickle in your life, please go to the Fickle Pickle in Roswell, GA. THEY ARE AMAZING.

That's about all. This Monday sucks. I am bored. So far today I have: blogged. And texted a friend from my small group. That's about it. Hopefully next Monday will be better!


What's the deal with Starbucks, anyway?

So I am at the gym this morning, and normally I like to get in the steamer after my workout. The steamer feels like a manly place to be...you know, nothing but a towel on, sweating like crazy, feels manly for some reason. So this morning I steamed. I am in there sweating like a banshee when this guy walks in. He is sort of tall, pretty buff, and is carrying a Venti Starbucks cup. Yes, you heard me. In the steamer, this idiot is drinking Starbucks. I sneak a peek - at his CUP - and see the following in big bold letters: NFVL. In the language of Starbucks that means Non Fat Vanilla Latte. In the steamer. Are you kidding me? I can't think of one thing in the world that I would want LESS in a 130 degree steam room than a NFVL. I mean seriously. Then I watched him carry it in to the SHOWER! Come on people!

But that did get me thinking about Starbucks (SBUX on Nasdaq). And how many other places that I would rather go for coffee than Starbucks. And yet...that stupid green emblem keeps me coming back. Why? Maybe because you can find one on every corner. There is a street in downtown Salem that literally has 2 Starbucks in a 1 block span. There are 3 businesses in between them, and yet they both thrive!! However, I will give you a list of my favorite coffee spots, for various reasons: The Back Porch (Bend, OR), Dunkin' Doughnuts (for their coffee!!), Thump (http://thumpcoffee.com/), Espresso News (Best coffee in Boone, NC - http://www.espressonews.com/), Blue Pepper (Salem, OR - http://bpepper1002.qwestoffice.net/), and Sister Coffee Company (Sisters, OR - http://www.sisterscoffee.com/). If you ever get the chance, go to them all. Not in one day, just sometime in your life.

I like coffee a lot - not addicted by any means, I could quit cold turkey if my life depended on it - just like it a lot. I like the aroma. I (secretly) like coffee breath.....that is gross, but I had to say it. I like the way Sco used to smell because he always had a mocha in his hands. But what I really like is to have it steam and make things smell like it. Ashley likes to think this is the only reason that I get coffee - to make my car smell like coffee, or just so I can sit there and smell it and occasionally take a sip. I don't think I have really ever finished an entire cup, in fact.

But I will tell you one thing. There really is nothing better than sitting in a coffee shop on a cold, rainy (or snowy) day talking with someone. It is comforting. It is normal. It is good. So if you want to help the economy and have a good time - grab a friend, go find a local joint (not Starbucks!), and have a conversation!

Come to think of it, I'm a hypocrite. I had Starbucks yesterday. So shoot me, alright?


We are all the same

We're kings, we're free, we're weak, we're empty

We're strong, we fail, we trust and deceive, we doubt and we believe

We are, We are, We are, All the same. We are, we are, we are all the same.

We're wrong, we're fools, we're wise, we're beautiful

We're fake, we hate, we're cruel and we're kind, we give up and some of us find

We all look for love and some of us look to above

And no matter what one of us may believe

We're all searching for a love that never leaves

We are We are We are all the same

But we all have different eyes...And we see through different lives

We're saved, we're damned, we hope, we can understand

We're loved, we kill, we give and we need we break down and some of us achieve

We all look for love it never changes...God loves us all.

And no matter what one of us may believe

We're all searching for a love that never leaves.

We are We are We are all the same.
I didn't write this. I wish I did, because it is all true. We really are all searching for one thing - a love that will never leave us. We look in strange places, look all over our lives for it, but typically it (He) is right in front of us. We chase love around by buying things, stressing about things, always wanting the next best person or thing, but really, we are all just the same. We want to be loved! My friend Sam Martin (http://www.sammartinmusic.com/) wrote this song and for some reason I have been listening to it lately. You should check it out too - it's a free listen on his website. It has a music video that is amazing too!

Let's see, what else can I ramble on about this morning? How about an update on some unfinished business?
- I finally finished Abraham. Not looking back.
- Susan in my office, I have discovered, is married. But she tells at least 3 different people that she loves them and misses them...and they are not her kids, because she has none. This confuses me. To be continued.....
- Ashley and I have a fun-filled weekend coming up...Sister Hazel (where did THEY go??) concert tomorrow night, and then we get to watch the Portland TrailBlazers destroy, annihilate, and embarrass the Atlanta Hawks.......from the front row. Thanks Chris Brickell for that hook up!
- Things at Casa Nana are great...she insists on doing my laundry, which is great, because my clothes have never been pressed or ironed in their life. She loves ironing. She irons my tee-shirts. And I'm pretty sure she gets the socks too. I have never seen so many perfect creases in my life. Plus she makes a MEAN chicken salad! But if you want to be truly humbled in life, have your girlfriend's grandmother clean your dirty underwear. She said, and I quote: "Well at least I know what to get you for your birthday".....wink.


Have a great weekend!


Secrets secrets Secreast?

I secretly want to be a professional photographer. I mean, who wouldn't want to be able to wake up every morning and say, "Well, I need to go outside and work." "Well, I need to go look at those moutains". "Well, I need to go spend some quality time in nature". I guess golfers do that too........

Here are some great photographers: Jeremy Cowart (www.jeremycowart.com/), Josh Cordell (http://www.joshcordell.com/), Bob Sutton (http://www.bobsuttonphotography.com/).

I secretly want to be a professional golfer. Honestly, who wouldn't want to play a great game in the sun (most days) every day? I guess the stress can mount as the stakes get higher, but when you are clutch it really doesn't matter.

I secretly want to be a professional blogger. This actually is not a secret. If you know anyone who wants a blogger on their staff, please have them email me. Alexcasebeer@gmail.com. I'm serious.

I secretly drank too much water/coffee this morning and have to pee every 28 minutes. Seriously it is so annoying. And sort of embarssing. What's more embarssing is the coffee that I spilled on my pants this morning in the car. So not only do I have to pee all the time but it looks like I pee all the time on myself!

I secretly want to be really fit and in shape and have some rockin' abs. This is vain and pathetic. I worked out this morning. I almost pooped my pants and almost threw up. Did I work out too hard? Or am I just a really big wuss? Time will tell.

I secretly want to be a professional motivational speaker. I look up to people who can speak well. Sco, Herb, Barack, Ty Saltzgiver, Andy Stanley, Miles McPherson, Scott Casebeer. If only we could all just do that for a living.

I secretly want to be a writer. Although I'm not sure that I would handle the solidarity well...or the writer's block...or the sometimes long, lonely days...or the rejection or writing a crap book...so maybe I don't want to be a writer. Back to blogging!

I secretly want to know if God has this huge master plan for us already planned out...or He is making it up as we go along. I'm not so secretly perfectly ok with either option. He's in control, I'm not. I'm just an idiot trying to do what He wants.

I secretly want to be on Young Life staff. This has been available to me at times, but for some reason I did not feel the pull from God to do this as a full time job. I wonder why?

I secretly hate Facebook. You know you do too.

I secretly love realty TV. Ok, this is not a secret at all. Just an admission. You know show made me laugh this reality season? True Beauty. Man, it was horrible. But boy was it funny!

I think I have revealed most of my secrets. You got any good ones? I have few more, but can't reveal them just yet...

Ok, one more. I secretly think vulnerability is a very good thing and more people should be more vulnerable.

Secreast (Casebeer) out!


What in the world?

What in the world is God's call in our lives? How do we figure that out? Do we sit around and wait for a loud gong or something? Do we wait for the infamous lightning bolt that God will send down to get our attention? Do we just trust that God is in control? Or do we sit idly and wait. And wait. And wait some more.

I think that is the most confusing question for a follower of Christ. It says all over the New Testament to listen to the voice of God...or to follow His will for us. It is reality. It is something we have to be willing to trust and to buy in to. But it may be something we do not want or think is right for us. Oftentimes we come to the inevitable fork in the road (Yogi Berra says to "Pick it up!"). One way may be our way, the easy way. The other way may be hard. And confusing. And strange. But it also may be God's way - or His will. Have you experienced this? I have. I'm not saying that I am experiencing it right now, but really just encouraging us all to keep listening.

So how do we listen? How do we "hear God's voice"? I think a lot of it starts by reading. I'm not talking about James Patterson here, although I am guilty of picking up his books when I don't want to be challenged in my life. I am talking about diving into scripture and pulling from it. Applying something - anything - to our lives. Ashley and I have been reading through Acts lately, and have both been loving it. It's one of those books in the NT that I just gloss over. I go immediately to the General Electric Power Company (Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians) or to the Gospels when I read. Never Acts. But I wish we read it and talked about it everyday. It is powerful and amazing. The Disciples had SO MUCH faith in God. They would go into the hardest, darkest places and be BOLD. Because they knew, from reading scripture and studying it, that God would honor their faith in Him. God promised them all power and authority in His name to heal and preach, and they believed it. They were so secure in that they were willing to die for it. And 11 of the 12 did. Paul was thrown in jail (after being stoned and tortured) and stayed there waiting for trial for things he didn't do for 2 years. And just before getting to trial, his captors lead him about 4 miles away from jail and cut his head off. But reading through his letters to the Philippians and Ephesians he had JOY in jail! And on top of that, he converted Roman guards from the cell! Talk about faith and boldness. Talk about following God's call for his life. He listened...and trusted.

I also think that "listening to God's will" involves prayer and counsel. I think it is a very good thing to have someone to talk to about this complex. For me, it is usually an older man - Sco, Fox, Herb, etc. They always seem to help me flesh out my thoughts and give me a plan to act. By no means do they interpret God's call for me, because they have no idea. But they listen to what I think God is telling me or calling me to or what my "gut" says and help me through it.

I don't even know why I am writing about this. I'm not an expert. Far from it, in fact. But I know that God has called us to something. And I willing to find out what it is.

PS. The Hawks game was great...Phillips Arena is sweet! The Thrashers game didn't work out...communication breakdown! Oh well. And things at the office are pretty mellow, although there was a massive upheaval this morning surrounding the outcome of "The Bachelor" last night....Jason Meznik is an idiot and a sleazebag!